Inside Pulse 12

Retrograding 10.31.03

Right. Lots to cover this Hallowe’en. First up we’re going to look at the comments you sent in a few weeks ago about your scariest gaming moments. Then we’ll answer a few letters. And then we’ll give you a little VC action. After all, it is Hallowe’en.

I’ve two scary game stories;
First one, I was watching my friend play the Gamecube port of the original Resident Evil, a game my friend was afraid to even play, and my two friends and I made him turn out the lights. I was getting bored as I am not a big RE fan and I told my friend who had the grenade launcher to fire a grenade into the room he just walked into. He did and walked out when he walked back in he walked around for a second and then 3 BATS CAME OF NO WHERE and my friend started yelling and screaming and threw the controller down, my two friends where scared and I jumped when he yelled but then I just had to laugh.

The scariest gaming moment though was playing Silent Hill two for the XBox. I was hanging with 3 friends and one of them was playing, the three of us were watching. now anyone who plays Silent knows how creepy the games can get(esp the new one I couldn’t stop shaking after 2 hours of gamplay). Anyways, my friend had just gotten to the part where there was no one in an armchair and when you turn around some one was there, which is kinda freaky. My friend who was standing behind me at the time said something along the lines of ‘I am so deceased and we all let a little nervous laugh go. Then my same friend saw that the door was open and was letting light in to the dark room. Silently he crept over as we got more and more entrenched, and all of a sudden slammed the door, I flew off the couch I was lieing down on, my friend who was playing jumped so high he knocked food over and almost threw the controller through the screen, my other friend yelled, and even the guy who closed the door jumped. Needless to say we didn’t play again that night, or really ever again for that matter.

Hey man keep up the good work, and hell yes I would love to check out your idea for reviewing, I just like to know what others think of games, I might play, or ones I have.

Your column is the best thing going, and even if I have to read S. Keith to get yours I will because I atleast know there is something that doesn’t suck around.

Rock on

Matt

Lol. That’s a very kick ass set of stories Matt. I’m glad to hear them. It’s odd when you read, but there are many times in video games where people freak out and jump as they would at a movie.

Super Mario Bros. 3:

When you beat the game and it tells you the Princess is in another castle.
I was like 9 at the time and I just wanted to throw something at the t.v.

Enrique

Now that’s a good funny one. Was there ANYONE who enjoyed the ending of SMB3 when they first saw it???

Clock Tower.

I remember looking at the cover of the manual in the jewel case the game
came in, half chuckling to myself and half wondering if the game was as
lame as it looked.

My friend Patrick and I were at a video rental store called Eastway
Video, looking for a Playstation game to rent, and by the flavor text on
the back of the case, Clock Tower was looking like it was going to be
B-Movie delicious. It was settled, Patrick and I were going to go up
against a maniac killer wielding: “”¦a giant pair of scissors”.

Pat and I set back to my house in order to enjoy some chips and bad
survival horror. I took the black little disc with the bloody lettering
and gently placed it into my Playstation. As soon as the game booted up,
I had a feeling that this game wasn’t going to be the laugh riot
Resident Evil turned out to be, and as soon as the intro began, my
suspicions were confirmed.

When you start the game with Jennifer and you are walking down the
street in Norway at night, with nothing but the sound of footsteps sets
the mood”¦ especially when you hear the faint sounds of blades rubbing
against each other. Patrick and I jumped when Scissorman jumps out and
skewers the security guard of the college.

Running from the Scissorman, the forboding chase music and the snick
snick of his scissors screaming out of the television speakers without
any means of killing him made me realize that survival horror was not
about being able to get guns or rocket launchers, but about being chased
by an unstoppable killing machine.

Trapped in the storage room with the Scissorman and finding a rescue
device was a godsend”¦ until you realize you selected the wrong option.
Pat yelled to me: “Throw the bike”¦” and I selected it. Jennifer heaves
the bike at Scissorman only to have him sink his blades into her stomach.

That was not the worst of it, though. When you discover a disemboweled
corpse of a campus worker in one of the bathroom stalls, then have to
hide in one of those stalls, you feel claustrophobic, closed in, like
prey. The first time you hide, Scissorman comes close, but backs away.
Thinking it is safe to do so again cost me and Patrick. I still remember
thinking, after the music died down, that Jennifer was safe”¦ until
Scissorman thrusts his giant pair of scissors into the stomach of
Jennifer who leaned up against the door to see if she could hear anything.

Although it is difficult for me to convey the amount of tension I felt
at that moment, it was agreed by both myself and Patrick that Clock
Tower was the most intense fear inducing game we had ever played. To
this day I still get chills when playing the game I once mocked for
having a giant pair of scissors.

Dave Olvera

If that right there doesn’t convince you to go the f*ck out and buy Clock Tower, I don’t know what can. I can’t describe to you how your heart will race from Clock Tower. The graphics may be outdated but it’s still one of the best games at inducing fear and panic I have ever seen. Far better than Resident Evil.

As for scary moments in games: I missed the article
where you announced this so I don’t really know what
to enter. A pretty tense moment was in Halo when you
are sent to investigate the missing team and all you
find is a deserted enemy base, strange noises and old
video diaries of your ally’s death.

The first Silent Hill game was full of tense moments
too, like the cafe at the start or when the light
suddenly disappears and you’re walking through the
streets in total darkness. Hope that’s the sort of
thing you’re looking for.

Jaime

I know my ex found Silent Hill to be scary as well. It did nothing for me, but fear is pretty subjective.

I’ll now show my two creepiest gaming moments.

The first is probably not going to be a surprise to long time readers. The game is HELL NIGHT. An Atlus made game that never made it to the US, but Konami ported it to Europe. So the only way to play the game in English, is to import a PAL PS1 disc.

The game is incredible. The monster may look weird, but the gameplay leaves you going ‘Ohshitohshitohshitohshit’ from beginning to end. You can’t hurt the monster. All you can do is run and hide. And it gets smarter the better you get. The AI is incredible. You can’t run for long, because you get tired and start to heave. You can sacrifice friends to the creature, but eventually you will be all alone against the thing that should not be. As soon as you can start to hear the creature breath, you will begin muttering profanity and hoping to god you don’t encounter. It really is the only game to actually ever make me jump. If you can buy it, I strongly urge you to do so. Hell Night is a game to be savoured, not played.

The second story involves the game D for the Sega Saturn. It was one of the first games I purchased for the Saturn. I love that system so very very much BTW. And my freshman year of college, I hooked my Saturn up to the communal TV for my dorm floor. And every night for two weeks we’d all gather late at night and play that game. Yes you read that right. ALL of us. Stoners, jocks, nerds, preppies, Goths. We would all unite and play D near the Witching Hour and have a buttload of fun trying to beat the game in the 2 hour time limit it allowed. Each night a different person would get the controls and we’d all shout and scream and swear at the player, trying to get him or her to do what we KNEW was right. It was an incredible bonding session for 30 people away from home for the first time. And it’s still one of my best college memories. The game was spooky and dark and forboding, and if someone jumped, it would make us instinctively jump too. Sure it’s not really scary, but it shows what a good horror game can do. It sucks you in and makes you forget it’s not reality. The best thing Acclaim ever made.

Now, let’s read some of your non spooky letters. For a bit anyways.

Hey Alex,

I e-mailed you the other day from my old school account about how your columns turned me on to the Shining Force Series. Thanks again for the quick reply, it’s refreshing to actually get feedback from someone when you e-mail them. Anyways, I just down done reading your review of Shining Soul, and I have to say it was on point. Also due to the fact that the Swordsman indeed does suck…alot…I am forced to play as him, because I am a glutton for punishment:) I beat the game fairly quickly with the Swordsman on the normal level, but I am really glad they included Advanced Mode. It gives the game great reply value, among other things.

Some questions. While I read on shiningforcecentral.com that Shining Soul II will get released for the US I didn’t see anything about Shining Force. Will it see a US release, or will it be an import only for us US citizens? Not sure if you have the inside info, but I figure if anyone would you would.

Also meant to ask what you think of the Fire Emblem game coming to the GBA? I have heard a lot of great things about the series. I have herad it’s the 6th overall Fire Emblem game, but only the first to hit our shores. Not sure if that will leave gamers like me out of the loop when I am playing it or not. Any advice?

Take it easy,

A.J.

AJ, I’m pretty sure the Fire Emblem game on the GBA is a remake of the SECOND game in the FE series. I could be wrong though. As for Shining Soul 2, Atlus has the rights and will be bringing that over as well.

This next set of letters is from Matt who wanted to test out the Database I’m making for old retrogames that will be downloadable for you readers once I feel there is enough meat inside it.

Hello,

Hey, if you’re sending Beta copies out to folks of the mini-review, I’d love to be a part of it. Even better, I’d like to see a ton of mini reviews for my portable system, so hard to tell what looks good from the box for the GBA. Would’ve never picked up Ham Ham Heartbreak if not for your review, and I’m in smootchie with that game(hopefully the first and last ham-talk reference I ever use).

Matthew Yeager

And After”¦

Hello,

Checked it out and I thought it was great. Almost think you grade too many
different parts for a quicky review, but at the same time it gives the
reader an objective view on how you got to that score. Like how the
overall score might not be as high because the while this and this are
good, creativity and addictiveness are low etc. Says a lot with only a few
words. Have you thought of any format changes like putting the genre of
the game after the title? Maybe Title/Genre/Overall score followed by what
the game scored in each area? That way people who want to scroll through
fast can do so and people who want to see what it scored in different areas
can do so. Just a thought.

Haven’t yet tried Pokemon Pinball, but I bought a few months ago Pinball of
the Dead and I love it! Glad to see it got a 7.9. Can you believe EBgames
sells this for 14.99 locally?

Also, I only mention this because I know you spent time in Europe, but did
you ever watch the TV show Coupling over there? They slaughter the US
version. I’m just rambling now :)

Thanks for sending me the reviews!
-Matt

He had some good ideas. And if you too want an early copy of the database, give me an email!

And nope, I never watched Coupling. US or UK versions.

I’m also still getting emails about my WMXIX review”¦

Hey Alex,

Very cool review, big ups for that (copyright Tazz Industries)

What I would like to know however is why the hate for the Smackdown! series of games on the PS2??

The only real quirk I have with the game is the pathetically easy AI, in which I’m forced to play the game on SMACKDOWN! difficulty every time and still kick six kinds of ass, most times never even being touched by the opposing computer controlled wrestler.

Still, nothing beats a Smackdown session with a group of friends. I’d like to know your reasons for disliking it to such an extent.

Thanks man, keep up the good work.

John

I don’t really hate the SD series. It’s just so third rate compared to the pure and unbutchered Touken Retsuden engine. I was bones breaking. I want every move to be able to become a double team one. I want fire breathing and voice acting! I want ONLINE play! And SD now is JUST starting to catch up to Touken Retusden 4 for the Dreamcast, which is 4 years old. So to HCTP, I must fart in its general direction.

You completely reminded me of how much I loved SitD and the original SF.
The memories of Bolt-4’ing Dark Sol in SitD, and figuring out the healer
trick echo through my brain. Remembering how I tried fanatically to see if
there truly was any purpose whatsoever to Jogurt the Yogurt. My god.
Spending long-saved allowance on a strategy guide for SitD because I didn’t
understand that I needed to use the Rope to get past dungeon 2.

Beyond that, you’ve rekindled a distinct urge to build my team again.

Since I don’t own a GBA, or basically any other system anymore (Genesis and
Game Gear are 3000 miles away), I need the peaceful joy of ROMs to occupy
myself with if I am to play these games again. Now don’t get me wrong, I am
going into the biz myself after grad school, so I hate seeing people steal
(which is why I played and beat Golden Sun 2 on my roommate’s GBA and then
bought the actual game for a cool 35 bucks simply to support it). But my
aforementioned lack of systems is killing me, and I really don’t have a
hundred bucks to spend on a GBA or something just for one game.

If you have any knowledge of ROM places I can utilize, though, I’d be
appreciative. Otherwise, continue the good stuff.

Long live Domingo.

– Parhaum

Levelling up Jogurt netted you a Jogurt ring! What more could you want????

I wish I knew of some ROM places for you. But I never use them Parhaum. I’m sure there’s lots of readers that could help you out though. Or else shiningforcecentral.com.

Alex,

Just a quick Gamecube question: Is the Game Boy Player backwards compatible to older Game Boy/Game Boy Colour games?

I have enjoyed 411mania’s columns and reviews lately. You guys really show a lot of passion. I read reviews other places like IGN.com and if a game has a lot of hype then it will get a good review. For example, ESPN NHL Hockey. ESPN and EA’s NHL 2004 were supposed to be the end all and be all of hockey games. They weren’t. I had saved a gift certificate since June to purchase a hockey game and neither one was good enough to buy. EA’s game just wasn’t good enough. ESPN had a bland franchise mode and the game would freeze! How can a console game freeze? I understand PC games freezing because they’re always sending out patches etc. You can’t do that for a PS2 game! Yet IGN and everyone else gave the games great reviews. So I’m getting a Gamecube for Christmas and I’m using the gift certificate for Gamecube stuff. And yes, I’m buying Ikaruga. I just want to thank you guys for honest reviews. I like 5.0 being the standard for the average game. It will seperate great games from very good games. Thanks for listening to me ramble and I’ll ask two more questions:

1. Any additional info on Shining Force 3 on the GC? I was never able to play SF3 and I would love to see it on the GC.

2. Do you know of any good shooters on the NES, SNES and Genesis? I like Aero Fighters and UN Squadron for the SNES even though I suck hard.

Thanks again and keep up the good work.

Jeff Lingard

The Game boy Player is compatible will all GB, GBC, and GBA games.

No additional news on SF3 on the Game Cube. I really hope Camelot follows through with this one.

And shooters huh? Well, Gunstar Heroes is always a good call. Gradius and Pariodus are excellent, and the original 1942.

Dear Alex,

I don’t know if I’m included in that dozen or so people, but after I sent
you the original e-mail (still wondering about Vampire Chronicles, by the
way), I went out and got the NGCP at my local EB. I also love it, and I
also orderd Metal Slug 2nd Mission and Gals’ Fighters. I never thought a
portable system could have a fighter with over 2 dozen characters, tons of
unique minigames and modes of play, almost as much technique as the big boy
versions, character-specific endings…and that’s only one game!

One complaint–the speed and lack of color on character sprites. Oh well,
other than that, it’s great. Plus I hear Gals Fighter is fast.

I’m amazed how well that little thumbstick works–720–FINAH ATAHMEEK
BUHHAAAAH!!

I’m not too big on Turf Masters (hate golf) and Fatal Fury is probably the
worst of the lot, but still–well worth it and more. Surprised to see the
ability to tag out, ducking/rolling, and JUGGLING COMBOS?!

A version of Pac-Man that allows you to see the whole screen: cool. Of
course, that’s probably the only other thing the N-Gage screen is good for.

I’m trying to talk some friends into it, and they’re considering it. One
admits that he thinks SNK vs. Capcom and KOF R-2 play way better than King
of Fighters EX. Disturbingly, though, KoF R-2 has Mai’s bouncing…

Anyway, love the system and thanks for the 411 on it (dumb pun), because I
didn’t even know I could get one here aside from import shops far away from
home. There’s more SNK goodness to be had with Metal Slug 3 and KOF 00′ and
01′, too.

Incidentally, who do I blame for the DC Mark of the Wolves having Marco
renamed Butt and having a penchant for fried chicken? I hope the latter
wasn’t the original translation.

Andrew

And another one joined the NGPC brigade! I am so proud of all of you that went out and bought that system! You created a TWENTY PAGE mailbag! Hats off to all my readers. You made me honestly believe that the gaming community is not made up of just idiots with more machismo than a bunch of geeks and nerds should have or people who just want to see pixilated tits.

And Turf masters is lame. And Gals Fighter IS fast. Just warning you.

Everyone needs to get the two disc KoF set coming to the PS2. And blame SNK USA for the weird port of Mark of the Wolves.

OMG U IZ SO STOPID TEH NGGAE ROX UNLIEK U U COKSUKER U PROBLY SUK UR MOMS COK UR SUCH A LOSER.
It should be noted the above statement was the very definition of horse shit, because, actually, you’re one of my favorite writers on all of 411. I tend to disagree with you on a lot of things. FFTA, for example. But I think a column/review/whatever should be critiqued based on how well it was written and stuff, not because someone else doesn’t like a game you like. I’m sure we agree.
Anyway, the main purpose for this e-mail was to thank you for dying for our sins, also known as accepting the N-Gage. Here’s hoping you’ll be able to live through the pain.
Oh, and keep up the great work.
Adam

Someone dares disagree with me? FUCKER FUCKER FUCKEDY FUCKER! Meh. I’m over it. It’s all opinion anyway, right?

And the thing is. I have since turned down the N-gage. It felt wrong to take a free product I was just going to bash and tear to bits anyways. As the other 411 staff will tell you I have this really almost anal code of ethics and morals. At the last second, I had to write them and say that I couldn’t do it. I like free stuff. But I felt like such a cheap whore and a sell out for even considering it. Fuck Nokia. I’m still pure as the driven snow.

Hey Alex,

loved the retrograding mailbag as usual. I also can’t blame you for taking the N-Gage.

It actually made me have more respect for you, because although you think it is a terrible you are willing to give it a try, and also, you like free stuff, can’t blame you there.

I would try one, but I’m not shelling out 300 for the thing not to mention the games. If I got one for free then I would try it.

It’s actually starting to become a waiting game, because I know in the next week someone I know will get one. It’s actually a running thing with my friend and myself, we keep waiting for someone to walk into a room and tell their friends about the cool new N-Gage they bought, we are still working on what we would do. But I would bet it would involve me talking about beinging abel to buy a Gamecube, Game boy players, both demikids games, Mega Man network transmission, Metriod Prime, Supoer Mario Sunshine, a wavebird controller and Rebel Strike for that same or lower price.

But nothing beats free(except getting paid to do it, which someone might if they ever want me to play a Phantom.)

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again

Rock On,

Teff

See above Teff. See above.

Hi,

In your mailbag you mentioned the heated arguments
between the console fans and it made me think of this.

Back when it was (in the UK, at least) Megadrive vs
Snes vs Amiga, it would have been something so special
to have all 3 systems. It just doesn’t feel the same
anymore.

I was the guy with an Amiga. I had Sensible Soccer,
Speedball 2, Monkey Islands and Project X, which my
friends loved.

However; I was still a little jealous when I went to
see Gavin up the road with his Street Fighter 2, NBA
Jam, Mario World and Royal Rumble. I also looked
forward to seeing Paul down the road with his Streets
of Rage, Golden Axe, Sonic and that odd Pinball game
with little cultists wandering around. Devil Crash or
something like that?

Well, about a decade later I’m on the verge of
completing the era’s collection, but it doesn’t matter
anymore. I got a PS2 and could afford (at the time) to
get all 3 consoles at once, but it just didn’t appeal
to me.

I got an XBox exactly a year afterwards and have
bought 3 games for it in total. If KOTOR hadn’t come
out I’d probably never bought anything on it at all.

This Xmas it will be exactly a year after the xbox and
I’ve finally got enough of a reason to buy the GC.
PN03 looks like it will appeal to me and Viewtiful Joe
is hard enough to keep me going for a while. The only
other game I want to try is Ikaruga and then that’s it
– I’m finished. Back to the endless Smackdown series
titles until the PS3 is released.

Why doesn’t it matter to me anymore? Getting a whole
era’s worth of consoles should be a special occassion,
but I’m only really getting the GC to fill the space I
made for it on my desk. It’s untidy.

Has the home PC made all games too easily attainable
thus killing off my joy of collecting? Did seeing
Sonic on a Nintendo system go against every gaming
instinct I have had since I was 12? Am I just getting
old?

*sigh*

Anyway; Here’s something that’s been bugging me and
the community I’m a part of. There was an 80’s-90’s
coin-op who’s name none of us can remember. It was a
top-down, vertical scroller where you’re in a little
car driving about shooting stuff. The car had a damage
meter and when it got too knackered and caught on
fire, you could press the second button and the drvier
would dive out. You’d then have to hold your own
against all the vehicles with the little guy until a
lorry delivered a new car. Any idea’s what the game
was called? Another poster says it may have been about
a bank raid or something.

Jaime

The game you’re thinking of is the original Spy Hunter unless I’m totally off my rocker.

And I agree. The thrill of having multiple systems is gone. It’s not like the 16 bit era. I miss that. I miss the good natured competition between gaming fans. Now it’s just immature hate.

Now for the emails you probably have been waiting for me to comment on, yes?

The newest and first ever 411 issue of the VC generated a few hundreds emails of praise. We found links to the column all over the net thanking evil itself that Alexander Lucard was writing folklore and going back to his roots. I was very overwhelmed by the praise and admiration people had for the VC. But most of all I was touched that so many people remember, loved, and truly missed my old writing. Yes, there were some scary fanatical fans out there that reminded me why I quit. But there wasn’t a negative email in the bunch. For now, let’s look at a very very small sampling of what readers thought of Lucard’s other form of writing.

i am lost as hell…what is this vampire thing and who are these people
e-mailing you about it?

i ain’t even been drinking tonight, so i know something is definetly weird!

You do the best video game column on the f*ckin net man.

Mike V

I AM the best f*cking video game columnist on the net, aren’t I?

But this was a typical reaction from long time Retrograding readers/411mania fans. They weren’t aware of my previous publishing endeavors and it was a shock to the system to see my usual rants about gaming replaced with undead mumbo jumbo. Sorry to freak some of you out. But it was good to take a break from Retograding and go back to what I loved doing once upon a time. Nostalgia is after all, what Retrograding is at its core.

I got to say, man, that with each passing column I find you more and more unique. Your sense of prose, humor, and unparalleled knowledge impresses me tremendously. I don’t know if this means anything to you, coming from an unpublished poet (quite useless in career choices, but you must stay true to yourself), but thanks for providing high-quality material.I don’t play video games as much as I used to due to monetary and time restraints, but I never miss one of your columns.

Anyway, thank you for sharing your gift and if you ever need a place to hide from the Squaresoft Corporate Assasin’s Guild you’ll have a safe house in Lower Alabama.

enjoy the day,

R.E.Mimms

Thanks RE. I appreciate the kind words. And is Square comes a knocking, at least I know where a safehouse is.

Vampires suck. :)

~M.

.

.

..

….

GOTCHA!

Bet you got all sorts of pissy with THAT one. Not a
bad column, man. You do your research well.

That’s from Matt Nute. Who finally does believe Alexander Lucard is my real name. One of these days I’m just taking a picture of my SSN or passport for you straggling nonbelievers!

You git.

First time out under my own name, and I get upstaged by a comeback which,
apparently, was only slightly
more highly anticipated than the Awakening Of Cthulu.

Oh, well.. I might get a few random clickthroughs when people hit the ‘back’
button on their browser. ;)

Seriously, whilst I cannot honestly say I’ve ever heard of the Vampire
Chronicles, the people I’ve spoken to
seem to hold them in high regard. And even the green-eyed-multi-tentacled Plush
Toy sitting on my shoulder
can see an impressive bit of writing when he spots it. So consider the benefit
of the doubt given :)

You turned down Princeton? Why, did Miskatonic University give you a better
offer?

Interesting to see that note about Nosferatu, though, and about the origins of
the Sunlight thing; I doubt
many people knew that (even Goth-types). But it goes to show how much the media
contributes to our
modern view of vampires. It actually brings to mind an episode of The X-Files
where Mulder is going on at
great length about how there are so many different vampire mythos (what *is* the
plural of ‘mythos’,
anyway?) and so nothing Scully has ever heard about way of stopping them can be
guaranteed to work.
Have you ever considered doing some sort of comparative project, contrasting
various vampire
tales/stories/etc, tracing back the origins of certain parts of the urban (and
not so urban) legends?
Admittedly, it’d be a fairly substatial undertaking, but from the sounds of it,
you have most of the info at
your command anyway…

Right, I’m off to make some more Goths jealous because I know you. It’ll be
*very* interesting to see what
Widro has lined up (you *know* he’s going to get popular demand to make you
co-owner of 411, don’t you?).
Again, a very well-written piece of work that I’m going to point 75% of th
Sheffield University Roleplaying
Society in the direction of…

See you elsewhen!

Misha

Well Widro might disagree with you there and probably has the phrase ‘Egotistical primadonna’ in mind when he thinks of me.

Princeton was turned down by yours truly simply because of cost. No other reason.

And yes, always tell goth chicks you know me. You non spookykids might stand a chance then.

Hey man,
I totally dig the VC. I’ve written before talking about video games and I do love your video game reviews and your Retrograding column.
I was personally too young it seems when you first sarted doing the VC and so this is my first taste. I would love to read more.
Is there any place were it is archived? I would love to go check it out.

~Matt

I’ll answer the archive question after this next letter.

Alex,

Just wanted to drop you a quick line and let you know that I enjoyed the HELL out of the VC: Volume III that you posted last week. I went over to Jacksonville this weekend, which is like a two hour drive. I printed out some stuff to take with me incase I got bored over there, and I printed out your new column. Traffic stopped on the interstate, so I grabbed it and started reading through it. Holy shit dude, I’ve always liked the novel, but I never realized just how much research went into it. When traffic finally picked back up, I was swerving all over the place because I couldn’t put it down ha. It was wierd to see someone actually take the time to cite their sources, especially on the web. That stuff is definitely too good for the net.

One thing that REALLY interested me London After Midnight, the lost movie you mentioned. I’d heard of it in passing in film classes and what not, but I never really knew much about it. As soon as I got to Jax, I jumped on a computer and started looking into it. Quite the story surrounding that movie. I’m really looking forward to seeing Rich Schmidlin’s photographic reconstruction of the film, even though from what I hear and read, it’s a massive letdown compared to the hype.

Anyway, just wanted to drop you a line and ask you if you have the previous VC’s archived online anywhere. I’ve gotta admit, you’ve got me interested in something I didn’t think I’d ever be interested in.

Hope all is well bro, hope you weekend was good, enjoyed the read again, and let me know on those archives. If you don’t, I’m gonna personally hunt you down, tie you up, and repeatedly reference Dracula and Nosferatu as the same thing, and you’ll be helpless to fight back. Ha. Take it easy bud.

– Ken

Glad you liked it Mr. Anderson.

For those of you interested in finding London After Midnight, what little remains has just been released on a 3 DVD set called ‘The Lon Chaney Collection. I’m picking it up at lunch tomorrow along with the Steel Cage WWE DVD set because it has my beloved Magnum TA/.Tully Blanchard I quit Cage match. The greatest cage match EVER. It’s only half a film, but it’s still worth viewing. Now, if you ever want to see the full movie but with Bela Lugosi instead of Lon Chaney in the main character role, it’s called ‘Mark of the Vampire.’ A good flick, but Chaney is well”¦ LON FUCKING CHANEY!

As for the archive. Well there were two at one time. The first was Listbot. But they died a terrible death and the archive was lost. The second was at WBS.NET where the VC was hosted. Then Disney bought it out to for the GO Network. When I stopped doing my web page, eventually the entire Go Network webpages died and Disney took down their collective archives of my essays and scribblings as well. It may be somewhere, but you’d have to ask them.

And yes, technically Disney supported a collection of occult and historical evil. Get over it.

I have all the issues printed out, but not saved on a computer. There are many places where you can find back issues. You just have to know where to look and who to ask. Here’s a hint though: Chris Lopez of Onlineonslaught.com not only was a big fan, but once contributed a bit to the VC. Small world, huh?


Thank you for finally bringing some truth to the unwashed masses, as it
pertains to the history of vampires. I was curious as to how you came about
all of your information on the subject. I’ve had a vast interest in the
history of vampires for many years now, but living in Northeast Kansas, the
information that can be found is few and far between.

If you could offer any help on where I could find more information, I would
truly appreciate it.

— Paul Leonard

I gave Paul three books any vampirologist must own: The Annotated Dracula, The Vampire Book by J Gordon Melton and In Search of Dracula by Radu Florescu and Raymond McNally. And also pointed out her lived pretty damn close to what is considered the most evil place in all of North America: Stull, Kansas.

I’m absolutely going to Stull on Friday. It’s actually only a 20 minute
drive from where I live.

Really, there isn’t a way to narrow down what I’m looking for. I wish there
was, but there isn’t. My main interests are in vampires themselves. It’s
hard to explain really. I want to know more about the history behind them,
the mystery that surrounds them, etc. I wish I could be of more help as far
as sorting out what I’m looking for, but I’m not that certain that even I
know what I’m trying to find.

The only thing I can say with certainty is that I’ve always been intrigued
about vampires… drawn towards not just to the actions of them, but all of
the history behind them.

Paul

So there we go. That’s just SOME of the inbox clogging emails I got about the VC Volume 3, issue 1. Now, as much as I said it was going to be a one time thing, a lot of you have literally begged me to keep doing it. So here, as it’s Hallowe’en”¦here’s one last essay for you.

STULL, KANSAS

Ten miles east of Topeka, on lonely County Road 442 is a sleepy hovel of a town named Stull. With less than fifty residents and nothing more than a gas station in the way of conveniences, Stull appears to be no different from any of the other near extinct little villages that populate the Midwest of the United States. Yet, supposedly this tiny community is one of the darkest places on the planet and even rumored to be a gateway to Hell itself.

Stull was first founded in the 1862 by German immigrants and never grew in population over a hundred people. The town is named after Silvester Stull, its first postmaster. The eighteen people who first settled Stull also founded the Evangelical Emanuel Church with land donated by one Joseph Hildebrand. The town also planted a large pine tree by the church to commemorate the town’s creation.

Allegedly the town has been known for hiding something dark and mysterious for over a hundred years, yet actual reports of these legends didn’t appear until the 1970’s. There are many stories that state horrible things happened in the past of this tiny hamlet. One says that a small boy was burned alive in a cornfield fire. Yet another says witches and innocent people were hanged from the mighty tree that stood next to the church. Another legend says a stable boy killed the town’s mayor in a fit of rage in the 1850’s, before the town existed. Note also Stull is far too small to have a mayor as well. But some of these stories are recorded historical fact, such as the child in the burning field, and one man did commit suicide using the old pine tree.

In the 1900’s the limestone church was abandoned and began to fall into neglect. Now the church is merely an old ruin. The roof is missing; no doors or windows remain in the frame of the house. Plants grow through what little remains of the earthen floor and wind and rain have scarred the outside of the building. The large tree outside the church remained healthy however, and grew so large it even split a burial stone in half.

In the early 1970’s the first printed legend about Stull appeared in print thanks to the University of Kansas, although a few sources also claim the legends were first printed in ‘The Kansan,’ a major state newspaper in 1972. Things snowballed from there.

Suddenly the cemetery was known as a Hell Mouth, one of the gates to hell, although stories conflicted between 2 and 7 gates in the US, with others being in PA, NY, and OK. Somewhere it the cemetery, it was believed was a stairway that led to the Devil himself. College students around the state, and even across the nation began to flock to Stull in hopes of glimpsing the dark lord himself. On Halloween night in 1978, over 150 people sat in the Stull Cemetery hoping Satan would arise. People spread the belief that on this night the dead of Stull would rise along with him. Lucifer never showed up, and drunken tomfoolery replaced the walking dead. Yet, this lack of appearance by the Devil did not squelch the rumors, nor did students stop coming. For a long time, Stull was the sign of something called, ‘Quarter Days.’ Quarter Days are a time in which the Devil is supposedly strongest, even though St. George’s Day and Walpurgis Nacht have held that dubious honor in Europe as Western Asia.

Devil Worshipers performing unholy rites and murderous sacrifices to Satan are also believed to go on here, yet most vandalism caused to the decrepit graveyard is caused by drunken teenagers and other human born hooligans. Citizens of Stull complain frequently about the infamous reputation the normally peaceful town now has and has even gone so far as to give out $100 fines to people who enter the cemetery, especially on Halloween or other days of would-be evil. According to accounts from those that have visited the town out of Occult curiosity, even on days not normally associated with evil, the townsfolk and local police are very protective of the cemetery and has gone far enough to erect a chain link fence around the property and lock the gates. The people of Stull obviously want to keep people out, and not to protect them from the evil that lurks within the now fenced-off area, but to protect the cemetery.

Still people manage to elude the police and visit the would-be entrance to Hell. Some claim to encounter the supernatural first hand, with visions of ghostly apparitions, the wall of the church bleeding late at night, tombstones glowing red, and sinister noises coming from beneath the earth.

Two of the most common things sited about Stull are that people tend to have long blackouts, waking up with hours having passed and no recollection of what had happened, and that if a tape recorder is brought into the graveyard and allowed to record, it will pick up strange murmurings and voices that the human ear did not hear.

Other urban legends and beliefs about what goes on in this small hilltop graveyard have sprung up from various sources. Some say Satan himself was buried in Stull, others claim it was merely a child that he spawned with a witch. Supposedly no precipitation, such as rain, snow, sleet, or hail can touch the insides of the church, even though the roof is missing. In, ‘Vampires Among US,’ Rosemary Guiley recounts a story by Maurice Schwalm who claims to have encountered a ‘vampire ghost’ that resembles a werewolf following him through the grave filled landscape.

The most interesting belief sadly is the major contributor to vandalism in the graveyard. It involves the shattering bottles against the walls of the church. One belief is that if you make an upside-down crucifix and smack both bottles against the limestone sides of the church, they will not break. The most common belief is that hurtling bottles against the sides of the Stull church gives you a divination about your fate in the world beyond. If the bottle you throw against the wall shatters, you are damned. IF the bottle does not break, than your soul is Heaven bound.

By the later 80’s, nearly 500 people would gather in Stull on Halloween night. Deputies from across the county had to be recruited to help prevent injuries or accidents. Due to extensive damage and vandalism to the cemetery, the authorities began patrol the cemetery on a regular basis and started handing on tickets to those they found there. The legality of this is not open to question, as this is a private cemetery and the owners can easily force people from the hallowed grounds if they choose. The authorities in Stull continue to write tickets to those they catch there, and as mentioned earlier, it no longer applies to just Halloween nights.

Yet this unassuming town and its story of a portal to Hades have reached all corners of the globe. In 1992, the band, Urge Overkill released an EP entitled ‘Stull’ with pictures of the dilapidated church and its graveyard on the cover. The song, ‘Stull Part One,’ even talks about the graveyard and what could possibly lurk beneath it. In 1993, when Pope John Paul the Second visited the US, Time Magazine reported that the Pope specifically requested to NOT fly over Eastern Kansas due to it being ‘unholy ground.’ The Goth band, ‘The Cure’ supposedly cancelled a concert in Lawrence, Kansas due to its proximity to Stull, and even Kurt Cobain went to Stull to break bottles against the Church walls. Truly, Stull may not deserve its reputation, but it will most likely never go away.

In 1998 cemetery officials cut down the black pine tree the night before Halloween. Stull residents claim it was cut down because the tree had died, but pictures taken immediately before its destruction showed the tree to be alive and healthy. Although police and cemetery officials emphatically claim removing the tree had nothing to do with the growing demonology of the town, the truth most likely is the tree was destroyed as it was a large part of the folklore, and people thought by removing the tree, rumors and visitors would start to decrease.

In 1999 controversy erupted as reporters from both Kansas newspapers and local cable stations came to film the happenings at Halloween to prove Satan does not in fact reside under Kansas soil. The Sheriff stationed there even talked to the reporters and never once asked them to leave. Yet at precisely 11:30 pm, someone representing the cemetery owners forced the sheriff to remove all people present off the premises. Afterwards, the cemetery owners stated they did this because media attention attracts vandals and other unsavory types to the small community. Yet, allowing the media to debunk the legend would have been the most effective way to quell the massive amounts of occult minded individuals that travel to Stull each year. By kicking the media out so soon before the rise of Satan was supposed to occur, believers that Stull holds something evil had their convictions strengthened.

So where could this legend have come from? Could it be because of the large sinister-looking black tree that once hung near the church? Or perhaps because Stull has 666 in its zip code? Mayhaps it is because Stull sounds like ‘Skull’ or because the town once had a street named ‘Devil’s road?’ No, the most logical answer is that like all ruined churches and graveyards, urban legends and rumors begin to spread about ghosts or something evil lurking there at night. Somehow Stull broke free of the confines of mere local folklore and became something bigger. Something that captured the imagination of people nation-wide who for one reason or another wished to believe in something supernatural or even that a gateway to Hell was possible. Yet no one has come forth saying they have ever found the underground staircase, nor will anyone ever. After all, if a gateway to Satan’s Kingdom truly exists, then there is most likely no turning back from that road once one has embarked upon it.